Thyme is of the genus Thymus, most commonly Thymus vulgaris. Thyme leaves are curled, elliptically shaped and very small, with the upper leaf green-grey in color on top, while the underside is a whitish color.
Thyme has been used since ancient Egyptians times for bee culture, as an embalming agent to preserve their deceased pharaohs, and for various culinary, aromatic and medicinal purposes. It has an intense penetrating fragrance with around sixty different varieties including French (common) thyme, lemon thyme, orange thyme and silver thyme.
In ancient Greece, thyme was widely used for its aromatic qualities, being burned as incense in sacred temples as a symbol of courage and bravery. The Romans were responsible for getting Thyme into Europe where during the Middle Ages the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals, as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.
Thyme is native to areas such as Asia, southern Europe and the Mediterranean region and is also cultivated in North America.
22 MAGICAL HEALTH POWERS OF THYME:
- Cardio Care: The antioxidant protection of thyme, combined with its anti-inflammatory effects, helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, as chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of heart disease.
- Anti bacterial: Thyme oil extract contains Thymol, a “biocide” that fights antibiotic-resistant strains of several different types of bacteria, fungi and viruses, including e.coli. Thyme oil is effective against bacterial strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas genera.
- Respiratory Care: Thyme tea, with its antiseptic, antibiotic, relaxant and bronchodilatory properties, provides instant relief from coughs, chest congestion, sore throat, and bronchitis.
- Iron store: Thyme is a great source of iron, essential for energy production. Iron deficiency may cause anaemia, fatigue and make the body more susceptible to infection.
- For Strong Bones: Thyme is an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of iron, calcium and manganese which are all essential to promoting proper bone growth, maintaining strong, healthy bones and preventing bone disease.
- Oral Care: Thyme essential oil is a great oral tonic preventing and treating tooth decay, laryngitis, plaque formation, sore throat, mouth sores, tonsillitis and bad breath. Used in mouthwashes, toothpaste and ointments.
- Calms Nerves: Thyme works as a tonic and stimulates the nervous system. It alleviates nervous disorders like nightmares, depression, nervous exhaustion, insomnia and melancholy.
- Anti parasitic: The herb is used to cure hookworm, threadworm and roundworm. It can also destroy skin parasites like scabies and lice.
- Acne Cure: Thyme tincture’s anti-inflammatory properties make it gentler on the skin and have a significantly greater antibacterial effect than benzoyl peroxide, the active chemical ingredient found in majority of acne creams.
- Eye Care: Rich in Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant essential for healthy mucus membranes, thyme promotes healthy vision and is also used as eyewash to cure sore eyes.
- Hair Care: Thyme essential oils, in combination with other oils, strengthen the roots of your hair and improve its growth. It is widely used as a hair rinse to eradicate dandruff.
- Regulates Blood pressure: Studies have concluded that an aqueous extract, obtained from Thymus serpyllum L. (wild thyme), reduces blood pressure in hypertensive situations.
- Aids Digestion: Thymol and carvacol, help relax the smooth vessels of the gastrointestinal tract, act as a digestive tonic and increases the appetite. Thyme tea is known for its carminative (gas-reducing) properties, while phenols in it work as an antispasmodic, helping to relieve intestinal cramping, indigestion, irritable bowels, colic and bloating.
- Antispetic/Antifungal: Thyme contains thymol, an essential oil, which has antiseptic and anti fungal properties, which significantly enhances intracellular killing of C. albicans (a common cause of mouth and vaginal yeast infections (thrush)). It can be used as a poultice for insect bites, stings, mastitis and wounds.
- Antioxidants: Thymol, one of the volatile oils in thyme and a potent antioxidant, increases omega-3 fatty acids, or healthy fats, in brain cells. Thyme also contains many flavonoids and phenolic antioxidants like Zea-Xanthin, Lutein, Pigenin, Naringenin, Luteolin, and Thymonin.
- Antispasmodic: Thyme’s antispasmodic qualities provide relief to women during menstruation.
- Mosquito Killer: A combination of thymol, alpha-terpinene, and carvacrol is effective in killing Tiger mosquito larvae, a vector for the transmission of West Nile virus, Yellow fever virus, St. Louis encephalitis, dengue fever, and Chikungunya fever.
- Anti Cancer: Wild Thyme has shown to induce cell death in the breast cancer cells. Thyme contains Vitamin C which helps the human body develop resistance by scavenging harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Flavonoids like vitamin A and beta-carotene helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Rich in Nutrients: Thyme is packed with flavonoids, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, manganese and vitamin K. These maintain optimum blood clotting function and protect against free radical damage and oxidative stress.
- Vitamin Store: Contains B-complex vitamins, beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C and folic acid. Vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine keeps up GABA (beneficial neurotransmitter in the brain) levels in the brain, which has great stress buster function.
- Cell Health: Thymol, present in thyme, is found to protect and increase the quantity of healthy fats found in the cell membranes and other structures of the cell.
- Multi Curative: The flowers, leaves and oil of thyme are commonly used by people for the treatment of bedwetting, epilepsy, convulsions, menstrual cramps, diarrhea, stomachache, arthritis, colic, sore throat, spasm induced cough (including whooping cough), bronchitis, flatulence and as a diuretic (to increase urination).
Side Effects and Precautions:
Side effects are uncommon with thyme teas and tinctures but over consumption or undiluted forms can lead to some complications:
- Nausea: Very large dosages, such as 3 or 4 cups of thyme tea consumed all at once, may occasionally promote nausea and a sensation of warmth and perspiration.
- Headaches: Pure essential oil of thyme is extremely strong and irritating and can cause headaches and confusion, due to the presence of the chemical compound thujone. You must dilute it before ingesting it or placing it on the skin to avoid burns and inflammation.
- Surgery: Thyme might act as an anti coagulant increase the risk of excess bleeding during and after surgery. Avoid thyme at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- Allergies: You should avoid drinking thyme tea if you have a known sensitivity to plants in the mint family of Lamiaceae, common amongst them are rosemary, basil, catmint, hyssop, oregano and celery and if you have an allergy to grass. In such people allergic reactions to thyme tea include chest pain, shortness of breath, tightening of the throat, skin rash or swelling of the joints.
- Oral Toxicity: High doses of thyme may produce negative side effects which include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, diarrhea, headache and dizziness.
- Medical Conditions: Do not ingest thyme directly or as tea if you have a history of heart disease, peptic ulcers or other gastrointestinal disorders.
- Thyroid: One species of Thyme called Thymus serpyllum may have an adverse effect on the thyroid and patients undergoing thyroid replacement therapy or taking anti-thyroid medications should avoid consuming thyme tea.